The $2.5 billion that it cost to launch Curiosity Rover may sounds like a lot, but as the Facebook group "I f**king love science" noted, that's pocket change compared to the cost of the London Olympics. "I've seen quite a few comments complaining about the cost of the Curiosity mission, saying that the money could have been better spent combating poverty etc.," the group runner wrote. "I've got nothing against the Olympics, I'm just trying to put things into perspective."
The group compared Curiosity's $2.5 billion number from The New York Times and the Olympic's $15 billion estimate from Forbes in a pie chart, which has also been floating around Tumblr. We liked the way they thought but decided to put the numbers in a bar graph instead. (A pie chart suggests Curiosity and the Olympics were dipping from the same pool of money.)
Science lovers in the Facebook group reacted in a lot of different ways to the stark contrast. Some users said other things are bigger wastes of money, like war, which has now cost about $1.36 trillion according to costofwar.com. Others talked about the long term investments of both, from the Olympic's infrastructure to the jobs scientific experimentation makes.
Both expenditures are important in their own way, of course. Beyond the practical benefits, as user Rose Slosser said: "How can you put a price on the human spirit? Both of these endeavours require heart and I support them both."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.